by Tommy Zero
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
One of the world's greatest Carnivals, officially called the Soctiabank Toronto Caribbean Festival ... but locals and veterans still call it by its original name, Caribana.
WHEN: 1st long weekend of August
WHERE: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
WHAT HAPPENS: A mutant mix of Caribbean (i.e. Trinidad) Carnival with lots of North American influences (hip-hop trucks, reggae trucks, etc.) Many people consider it to be the best Caribbean-style festival outside of Trinidad, W.I.
Every hotel is booked to capacity. Most clubs/halls in the downtown core, and many throughout the Greater Toronto Area (the GTA) are packed to the brim with parties starting from Wednesday all the way through to Holiday Monday, and many are held by and feature celebrity partiers and performers.
Other attractions include an unofficial 'street party' in the city's core at Yonge and Dundas Streets on Friday and Saturday nights, J'Ouvert parties, parties on Toronto Island, and other festivals and events held downtown. Also, there's always great siteseeing in one of the world's premier multicultural and attraction-rich cities. Every year, you can expect to see a new attraction in the city, as it's always evolving (new condos, clubs, shopping attractions, siteseeing features, etc.)
Downtown Toronto is a walker's paradise, so wear something cool with comfortable shoes. BEWARE: highway traffic (the 401, the Don Valley Parkway, and the Gardiner expressway) is thick from Thursday night, and -- unless you have infinite patience and/or MUST have a car on the route -
You may not want to drive to the parade route; it can take hours to get out, factoring in the vehicular traffic, the masquerader/people traffic, music trucks still on the road, the police check-points, and just a seemingly endless stream of people you'll bump into.
If you've never been north of the Canada/U.S. border, Toronto's Caribbean Festival is the perfect time to plan a trip.